To follow the previous post on essential herbs, here are my top five spices. I do use considerably more than these, but my minimal kitchen would require these for me to survive happily.
1. Cumin: Essential to curries, Mexican food, and North African cuisine, cumin is well worth the shelf space and precious $$ that spices seem to consume.
2. Cinnamon: Known for helping to control blood glucose (sugar), cinnamon is also an anti-inflammatory as well as a wonderful sweet spice. Add it to fruit dishes, meats, cereal and baked goods, carrots, and teas as well as curries and African dishes.
3. Pepper: “Salt and pepper to taste” anyone? Pepper adds a slight zing, and even works well in gourmet chocolates. More standard uses include meats, salad dressings, and vegetable dishes.
4. Peppers, of the capsacium type: One can have an entire shelf full of dried pepper options, but I generally opt to keep cayenne and chili powder on hand. Red chili flakes are also useful, and technically smoked paprika falls under the category of peppers.
5. Curry powder: okay, I’ll admit this is a spice blend. It’s just one jar though! I suggest searching for something other than the American supermarket mix that the Joy of Cooking calls for. Ethnic groceries generally have more options, whether you are looking for a mix for Jamaica goat curry or a spciy Punjabi blend. If you have a little red jar, upgrade. You’ll be astonished at the difference!
Does your list differ? Co you prefer coriander to cumin, or nutmeg to cinnamon?
P.S. Regular readers: my apologies for the interminable absentia. Life was rather busy, but I’ll be back, intermintently. Ideas for blog posts welcome!